Discover Luang Prabang City Center - Luang Prabang
Nestled in the heart of a mountainous region of northern Laos, Luang Prabang is picturesque city known for its rich history and vibrant culture. Highly recommended by Trip Guru, the city’s old town center is an epitome of serenity, refined artistry, and the grandeur of the country’s past.
For many travelers, the mere mention of the city’s name evokes images of quintessential Laos—rows of cream-colored colonial structures, processions of monks clothed in flowing orange kasaya robes, colorful handicraft markets selling a dazzling array of goods, and towering palm trees dancing in the breeze. The seamless alliance of Lao traditional culture and Western heritage in this ancient city is, perhaps, best mirrored by the peaceful union of two rivers—the Nam Khan River and the mighty Mekong River—upon whose confluence the city rests. For a walk back into the city’s storied past, make sure to visit the Royal Palace Museum, which was originally built in 1904 as the residence of Lao monarchs. A mixture French and Lao architectural traditions, the building was converted into a national museum when the Lao royal family was overthrown by the current government in 1975. It now houses numerous royal, religious, and cultural artifacts, as well as several articles of interest that were given to Laos by other countries as diplomatic presents.
Just a stone’s throw away from the Royal Palace Museum, on the northeastern tip of the Luang Prabang peninsula is the Wat Xieng Thong, one of the most well-known Buddhist temples in Laos. The construction of the temple complex began in 1559 and today comprises a ceremonial hall and several shrines and pavilions. Located south of Wat Xieng Thong is another Buddhist temple called Wat Wisunarat. It is often touted as the oldest of its kind in Luang Prabang, although the original wooden temple was actually destroyed during a raid by the Black Flag rebel group in 1887. Inside the present temple are numerous gilded Buddha statues and some ceremonial stones dating back to the 15th century.
Visitors will be happy to know that Luang Prabang can be reached by air travel from other popular destinations in Southeast Asia, including from Vientiane in Laos, Chiang Mai and Bangkok in Thailand, Seam Reap in Cambodia, and Hanoi in Vietnam. The city center is located just 5 kilometers away from the airport. To get to the city from the airport, travelers have the option of taking either a taxi or a tuk-tuk, a motorized three-wheel vehicle. Many hotels also offer airport transfer services. The city itself is very compact in size and can be best explored on foot or by taking a tuk-tuk.